Having “spent several months experimenting with the limits of physical and psychological pressure,” military officers at Guantánamo Bay turned to the CIA in late 2002 “to find ways to get terrorism suspects to talk.” CIA lawyer Jonathan M. Fredman “explained that the definition of illegal torture was ‘written vaguely’” and “subject to perception.” “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong,” Fredman said.
According to documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, the U.S. military “hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross.”
The Senate ethics committee has begun a preliminary investigation into special treatment afforded to Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who received lower interest rates on their loans from Countrywide Financial. “I don’t know that we did anything wrong. I negotiated a mortgage at a prevailing rate, a competitive rate,” said Dodd.
Some of the nation’s largest banks plan to stop offering student loans to community colleges. In response, Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) have introduced legislation requiring lenders in the federal loan program to “extend credit to any eligible student, regardless of such things as income or the number of years of education, as long as the college is part of the program.”
Yesterday, President Bush signed into law the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act, which provides tax relief for military families and “shut[s] a loophole that defense contractors had been using to avoid paying millions of dollars in payroll taxes.” The new law will now require these companies “to pay the taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare programs.”
On the trail today: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) plans to conduct “a seminar on energy and national security this afternoon in the student union at Missouri State University.” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will meet with his Senior Working Group on National Security and with nearly 40 retired admirals and generals to discuss the state of the military.
Almost two weeks after conservatives began pushing the false claim that China is drilling off the coast of Cuba, Republican leaders are finally backing away from the story. “We’re not using the China talking point anymore,” Michael Steel, spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), told Roll Call.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that the “government does not have adequate privacy protections for the personal information it collects, shares and stores as part of the effort to fight terrorism.” The GAO report suggests updating the Privacy Act to protect against the government’s “massive, massive data collections.”
“A federal appeals court yesterday ordered a new trial for a former White House aide convicted of obstructing justice and lying.” David Safavian was convicted in 2006 for lying about his connections to criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
“Criminal prosecutions of immigrants by federal authorities surged to a record high in March,” according to a new report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The 9,350 new immigration prosecutions “accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of all new federal criminal cases brought nationwide that month.”
A Reuters/Zogby poll found that 58 percent of Americans planned to drive less in response to rising fuel prices, and nearly 39 percent were considering changing or canceling their summer vacations. “About 10 percent said they were pondering moving nearer to work, while roughly the same percentage said they were thinking about finding a job closer to home.”
And finally: Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R-AK) office is decorated with figurines representing his various nicknames, including “a small collection” of green Hulks. Behind his desk he also has a stuffed Tasmanian Devil, a gift from former senator Trent Lott. “He called me ‘Taz,’” Stevens said. “Everybody has a nickname around here. Hollings called me ‘Avalanche’ and I called him ‘Tidewater,’” he said of former senator Ernest Hollings. “We all have strange names for each other.”
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